From January 14 to 19, 2012, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao upon invitation paid an official visit to Nepal, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar and attended the opening ceremony of the Fifth World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. As the trip was coming to an end, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who accompanied Wen on the visit, introduced to the accompanying journalists Premier Wen's trip and its outcome.
Yang said this year is of special significance in China's development process, as we will celebrate the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the 12th Five-Year Plan will enter the implementation stage. Currently, international and regional situations are complicated, China's traditional friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with South Asian and the Gulf Arab countries have been developing continuously and China's relations with regional countries are facing new opportunities and challenges. In this context, Premier Wen's official visit to Nepal and the three Gulf countries is a major diplomatic move by the Chinese leader at the beginning of the year and has drawn worldwide attention. During his four-nation tour in the past six days, Wen attended more than 40 bilateral and multilateral activities, delivered important speeches at the opening of the Fifth World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi and the Fourth China-Arab Business Conference and met with participating state leaders and heads of international organizations, Yang said. Wen's activities have demonstrated China's sincere wish and firm resolve to enhance political trust and strategic cooperation with Arab nations and relevant international and regional organizations and highlighted China's notion and policy measures to follow a path of green and sustainable development, he said. And the Chinese premier's active engagement in public diplomacy and with people from various circles of the countries that he has visited has been warmly welcomed and greatly appreciated, Yang said. The visit, with rich content, has produced fruitful results and is thus a complete success, he said.
I. Deepening China-Nepal Comprehensive Partnership
Wen's visit to Nepal, the first by a Chinese premier to the south Asian nation over the past 10 years, is aimed at further consolidating China-Nepal friendship, boosting mutual support, promoting cooperation in economy and trade, and expanding people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Yang said.
During his four-hour-long visit, Premier Wen engaged in intensive meetings and talks with Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and leaders of the Nepalese political parties and constituent assembly. Wen noted that China and Nepal should view and develop bilateral relations from a historical, overall and strategic perspective. He also raised policies and measures on expanding practical cooperation on an equal and mutually beneficial basis, emphasizing both sides need to strengthen the overall planning and steadily advance the implementation of related cooperative projects. China supports Nepal in seeking reconciliation, stability and development and establishing friendly relations with neighboring countries, Wen said. It is the common aspiration of all South Asian nations to seek peace, stability and development, said Wen, pledging that China is committed to developing friendly cooperative relations with all the South Asian nations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
Wen's remarks were widely echoed by Nepalese leaders, who lauded his visit as a milestone one bearing historic significance. Voicing their thanks to China's long-term firm support and disinterested aid, they stressed that Nepal attaches great importance to China's core interests, firmly adheres to the one-China policy and deems Taiwan and Tibet as an integral part of China. They vowed that the Nepalese government will never allow any anti-China activities on its territory. The Nepalese side welcomed China's enhanced cooperation with South Asian countries and is willing to maintain close cooperation with China in international and regional affairs and jointly promote regional prosperity. The two sides signed eight cooperative documents and issued a joint statement.
The international community has paid close attention to and made positive comments on Wen's visit to Nepal, hailing it as an enormous support for Nepal given by a friendly neighbor through concrete actions, which is of great importance to Nepal's drive for economic development and the improvement of people's livelihood. The Nepalese government, political parties and all social sectors have demonstrated a strong consensus on the China-Nepal ties and offered unflagging support for China's core concerns, said Yang, predicting a new leap forward in the development of the bilateral relations.
II. Facilitating Sound Development of Friendly Cooperation between China, Gulf Nations
During his gulf tour, Premier Wen met and held talks with leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. Wen spoke positively of the significant roles of the three gulf nations in the Arab and Islamic world, and exchanged views in a frank and in-depth manner and reached important agreement with the leaders of the countries on expanding bilateral relations, deepening mutual trust and friendship, and facilitating mutually beneficial cooperation. Wen also signed and issued joint statements with leaders of the three countries and witnessed the signing of dozens of agreements on bilateral cooperation.
(I) Wen's trip has enriched the strategic connotations of bilateral relations between China and the three gulf countries. China and Saudi Arabia agreed to make concerted efforts to enhance bilateral relations under a strategic framework, and agreed to set up a Saudi Arabia-China high level committee to supervise the two countries' cooperation in various fields. China and the United Arab Emirates agreed that the sound development of bilateral relations is a model of state-to-state relationship and their decision to establish a strategic partnership will open up broader prospects for both sides to expand cooperation in all areas. Both China and Qatar believe that the two countries enjoy strategic and long-term relations. The two sides agreed to strengthen coordination in regional and international affairs, and lift the bilateral relationship to higher levels under bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
(II) Wen's gulf tour has also promoted mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the three Gulf states. During his visit, Wen proposed a pragmatic policy from a strategic and long-term perspective to promote cooperation in the fields of commerce, finance, energy, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges between China and the three Gulf states. Leaders of the three countries agreed with Wen's proposal, saying their mutually beneficial cooperation with China has greatly facilitated domestic and regional economic growth, promoted people-to-people exchanges and opened broad prospects for future development. The three Gulf states will push for full-scale friendly cooperation with China in all sectors.
Premier Wen also met with Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdullatif al-Zayani, and reached a consensus with him to speed up negotiations on a free trade agreement between the two sides. Setting up the free trade zone, as a major move to deepen China-Arab economic and trade cooperation, will boost trade and economic cooperation between China and the GCC members, enhance their overall relationship, and have a positive influence on the whole world, Wen said. Echoing Wen's comments on friendly cooperative relations between the GCC and China, Al-Zayani said the GCC and its members view relations with China from a strategic perspective and appreciate the important roles that China has played in regional and international affairs. The GCC will stand together with China in pushing for an early success in negotiations over the free trade zone to uphold common interests of both sides, al-Zayani said.
(III) Wen's trip also expanded people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and the three Gulf countries as well as other Arab nations. Premier Wen and the leaders of the three Gulf countries agreed that China and Arab countries should work together under new situations to turn the Silk Road into a road of friendship and cooperation, and further deepen communication and cooperation in culture, education and other sectors between China and the Arab countries. In his meeting with members of the Saudi Arabia-China Friendship Association and the Saudi Arabia-China Business and Industry Council, Wen said mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, especially the youth, are the foundation of friendly cooperation between China and the Arab countries and that both sides should establish closer cultural ties. Wen's sincerity and his far-reaching statement have moved his audience, who expressed their willingness to work as messengers of friendship and make new contributions to the Arab-China relations and friendship.
As the trip was coming to an end, Premier Wen held a press conference in Qatar. He expounded his point of view on the achievement of his visit, as well as on international and regional issues. International and local media extensively covered Wen's visit to the three Gulf states, saying that the visit indicated great importance attached by China to Arab states. they said the Chinese leader's visit has greatly promoted political mutual trust and relations of strategic cooperation between China and the three Gulf states and also between China and the Arab nations. Wen's visit has produced fruitful results on bilateral cooperation, which is a successful one that is of vital significance featuring an all-win situation.
III. Reaffirming China's Position on Major International, Regional Issues
(I) Yang said Wen's visit has underlined China's position on the promotion of new energy. Yang said that the World Future Energy Summit is an influential and large-scale international conference in the renewable energy sector and it is of great significance to protecting the homeland of mankind and promoting world economic recovery and prosperity. At the opening ceremony of Fifth World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Premier Wen's keynote speech has introduced China's policy and proposals on new energy and conveyed a positive message that China will remain committed to a more sustainable path of development, Yang said.
In his speech, Wen said the core of green growth is to reduce the excessive consumption of energy resources and seek comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable economic, social and ecological development. He offered a four-point proposal: Firstly, increasing energy efficiency should be put on top of the agenda; Secondly, the development of renewable energy and clean energy should be promoted; The third point was to actively promote new technologies to enhance efficiency. Lastly, the premier urged countries to effectively safeguard energy security. Wen also spoke highly of the special role played by West Asia and North Africa in securing the future supply in the global energy market, adding that China is ready to work with the international community to promote regional peace and development.
On the sidelines of the summit, Wen also met with Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to exchange views on bilateral ties as well as the coordination in international and regional affairs. Political leaders of all countries, representatives of international organizations, business persons and scholars present at the meeting expressed extensive welcome to and made positive comment on China's active role in regional and international affairs. They also expressed the willingness to further strengthen political mutual trust and practical cooperation with China in promoting common development.
(II) During the visit, Wen also introduced to the world the friendly China-Arab cooperation. Premier Wen said that China has a long history of friendly exchanges with the Arab countries and the Arab and Islamic civilization has made important contributions to the world and human civilization. In a speech delivered at the fourth China-Arab Business Conference and Investment Seminar under the framework of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in the UAE, Wen said China gave high priority to its relations with Arab countries and regarded them as an important part of China's foreign policy. "Under any circumstances, our two sides have always cherished the traditional friendship, and remained good friends, good partners and good brothers," he said.
Wen put forward a three-point proposal on the China-Arab relations: strengthening political mutual trust and deepening strategic cooperation; deepening mutually beneficial cooperation for common development; expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges and carrying forward the traditional friendship. Appreciating China's friendly policy toward the Arab world, the Arab states fully agreed with China's proposals on promoting friendly cooperation and vowed to make joint efforts with China to further promote mutual trust and friendship between the two sides.
(III) The Chinese premier also expounded on China's position on maintaining peace and stability in West Asia and North Africa. Yang said that turbulence still persists in West Asia and North Africa, and the Gulf region has important strategic position and influence. During his visit to the three Gulf countries, Premier Wen elaborated on China's principled position on the current situation in West Asia and North Africa, as well as on the Syria issue and Iran's nuclear issue. Wen said China was closely watching the situation in the region, and urged all relevant parties in the countries concerned to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts through political dialogues. He also said China respected the people's appeals for reform and interests in the countries concerned, supported the mediation efforts by the Arab League in Syria and called for an end to violence against civilians. "China hopes and believes the governments and peoples in the region have the ability to solve their own problems," he said. "We support countries in the region in choosing independently a political system and economic development path suited to their own national conditions." The international community should play an active and constructive role in this regard, the Chinese premier said. The Arab countries said they agreed with Premier Wen's views on the situation and were willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China so as to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.
Yang said Wen's visit, which has achieved its goals of deepening mutual trust, enhancing exchanges, boosting friendship and expanding cooperation with the Arab nations, will further create a good surrounding environment, cement the China-Arab friendly cooperation and realize common development with those countries.